Tag Archives: Old Testament

Jeremiah 22, 23, 26; Psalm 77; James 2

14My brothers, if someone says he has faith, but does nothing, his faith is worth nothing. Can faith like that save him? 15A brother or sister in Christ might need clothes or might need food. 16And you say to him, “God be with you! I hope you stay warm and get plenty to eat.” You say this, but you do not give that person the things he needs. Unless you help him, your words are worth nothing. 17It is the same with faith. If faith does nothing, then that faith is dead, because it is alone.

18Someone might say, “You have faith, but I do things. Show me your faith! Your faith does nothing. I will show you my faith by the things I do.” 19You believe there is one God. Good! But the demons believe that, too! And they shake with fear.

20You foolish person! Must you be shown that faith that does nothing is worth nothing? 21Abraham is our father. He was made right with God by the things he did. He offered his son Isaac to God on the altar. 22So you see that Abraham’s faith and the things he did worked together. His faith was made perfect by what he did. 23This shows the full meaning of the Scripture that says: “Abraham believed God, and God accepted Abraham’s faith, and that faith made him right with God.” And Abraham was called “God’s friend.” 24So you see that a person is made right with God by the things he does. He cannot be made right by faith only.

25Another example is Rahab, who was a prostitute. But she was made right with God by something she did: She helped the spies for God’s people. She welcomed them into her home and helped them escape by a different road.

26A person’s body that does not have a spirit is dead. It is the same with faith. Faith that does nothing is dead! James 2:14-26

One of my all-time favorite movies is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I like just about everything about that movie, including Harrison Ford’s handsome face 😉 .

One scene always stands out to me:  Indy is working his way through the cave to find the Holy Grail coming against tests to prove his worth. During one test, as he stares down into the abyss of the cavern, he realizes that he’s going to have to have faith to “leap” to the other side. He gathers his courage. He puts his foot out and leans forward, half expecting to fall to his death. As he begins to fall, his foot lands on an invisible bridge that stretches across the gap and he is able to walk across safely.

I often feel like this is how I live my life. So many chasms lay before me in this journey. When I have faith in God to be there every step of the way, I am able to stick my foot out and leap.

Indiana didn’t simply have faith and then walk away from the impossible. He took action. He did something. He put out his foot and started walking, knowing that it was quite possible it could lead to his death.

As James points out in his letter, both Abraham and Rahab had faith in the God of Israel, and they acted on it, being obedient to what God had instructed. They demonstrated their faith through their actions…and were blessed for it.

Faith doesn’t stop at believing that Christ died and rose again. Yes, that the first step, but faith is also about how I live my life, the outcome of the choices that I make, and the strong foundations that I strive to build in myself and others.

Faith is a tree, and works are it’s fruit. I’m saved because I believe in Christ as my Savior, but my maturity lies in how I live that faith out in my daily life – do I ignore the needs of the people around me, living selfishly in my own little bubble or do I reach out and help, encourage, and love them without an expectation of return as Christ instructed?

Do I demonstrate my faith through my actions, my behavior, my choices, my speech or do I pray and read the Bible only for brownie points and notches on my spiritual belt?

Yesappa,Thank You for your gift of grace given for all who believe and have faith. Help me grow strong in my faith in You and Your goodness and mercy. Help my faith in your be evident in the way I live my life and the things that I do to glorify You and honor those you’ve put in my life, be it for a moment or a season. In Jesus’ name. Amen.  

 

Blessings – Julie

 

International Children’s Bible, Copyright © 2015 by Tommy Nelson™, a Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, James, Jeremiah, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

Zephaniah; Psalm 74; II Corinthians 8

One of the most frequent arguments of man about God goes something like this, “If God rules over the day, the night, the light, and the sun; if He sets seasons and limits the oceans from covering all the land, how is it that He allows chaos and destruction in the world?” (Paraphrased, Psalm 74). A more personal, contemporary grudge with God begets questions like, “If God is a loving, caring God, then why did He allow this addiction, divorce, death of my loved one, bankruptcy, job loss, declined health… in my life?” Throughout history man has cried out to God, yet, I sense a subtle change in the way New Testament Christians are called to perceive the difficulties of life. I am reminded of Courtney’s September 22nd post quoting II Corinthians 6:3-5:

3We try to live in such a way that no one will ever be offended or kept back from finding the Lord by the way we act, so that no one can find fault with us and blame it on the Lord. 4 In fact, in everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure suffering and hardship and trouble of every kind. 5 We have been beaten, put in jail, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, stayed awake through sleepless nights of watching, and gone without food. 6 We have proved ourselves to be what we claim by our wholesome lives and by our understanding of the Gospel and by our patience. We have been kind and truly loving and filled with the Holy Spirit.

Do you see the shift? It isn’t as though we are to stop asking God to intervene. There are too many Scriptures that challenge or command us to pray for self and others. The wild, uncontrollable impulse to question God’s goodness, His intentions, and His desire to deliver His “turtledove” from destruction is the difference I see in Paul’s discourse. There need be no doubt in an anno Domini son’s or daughter’s heart that God’s will is being accomplished in the lives of His children.

This is not to say that the children of Israel before Christ were not chastised for unbelief. Zephaniah warns that God will “…punish men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will He do evil,” (v 12). Only the foolish believed that God was uninvolved with His people and inactive.

Yet, today many still question God’s interaction with man. (Of course, I am not talking about nonbelievers who use this same argument to try discrediting God.) Focusing on the inequality in the world leads many to think that God neither blesses nor curses, and neither comes to the aid of or punishes His own. But do our circumstances evidence God’s apathy, or does complacency expose hearts fallen prey to life’s circumstances?

Maybe I just want an end to the questions. Then I remember that Jesus Christ put to rest all arguments when on the cross, He said, “It is finished!” What a relief! Like the Apostle Paul’s advice to the Corinthians, we must push on in our Christian walk, “doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago;” [a month ago, a decade ago] (my words); but now you also must complete the doing of it; that is there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion of what you have.” Whether in giving good gifts to the saints as is intended in this Scripture or in living a sacrificial life, I pray,

Dear Lord Jesus, help us to walk in victory over our circumstances. Help us demonstrate our belief in the personal intervention of a risen Savior who proved unequivocally that God is involved in our lives. Help us to focus on becoming “kind and truly loving and filled with the Holy Spirit” so that others will see You in us. Thank You for hearts dependent on the grace and mercy You daily bestow!

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, 66 Books, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

2 Kings 22-23; Psalm 73; 2 Corinthians 5

23But I am always with you.

You have held my hand.

24You guide me with your advice.

And later you will receive me in honor.

25I have no one in heaven but you.

I want nothing on earth besides you.

26My mind and my body may become weak.

But God is my strength.

He is mine forever.

27Those who are far from God will die.

You destroy those who are unfaithful.

28But I am close to God, and that is good.

The Lord God is my protection.

I will tell all that you have done. Psalm 73:23-28

I’m going to be completely honest. I’m really struggling right now. My life is in a tough spot and the situation is less than ideal for our family. The physical and emotional toll that having our family separated and strewn across the world is frustrating and difficult for all of us.

On the surface, to the ones looking into the window of our life, the answers seem simple and no brainer. Without understanding the nuances of our circumstances, judgements are made, advice is given. The pressure of so many expectations and the stress of not living up to any of them has got me second guessing almost everything.

Except for God.

It doesn’t matter that I can’t see God with my natural eyes, I trust that He is there guiding my steps, holding me by the hand in the journey, in the ups and downs, in the struggle. He’s the still small voice that leads me in my walk, encouraging me to keep up the good fight no matter how difficult it is.

My mind and body feel weak, exhausted from not sleeping well for way too many nights in a row, having too much on my shoulders that drains the life out of me, and not experiencing enough moments of joy.

But God is my strength. He protects me. He provides for me, He gives me rest and peace.

The key is remembering, in the hard moments, to crawl up on His lap, nestle into His arms, and stay close to His heart.

Yesappa, I need a hug today. I need You extra close today. I need Your strength. I need Your love. I need Your grace. And, I need an extra measure of peace today. In Jesus’ name. Amen

 

Blessings – Julie

 

International Children’s Bible, Copyright © 2015 by Tommy Nelson™, a Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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Filed under 2 Kings, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

Isaiah 49-52; Psalm 69; I Corinthians 14

Sleepless these days? Wrestling with ghosts or having nightmares of lonely struggles? From all the turmoil in our personal, national, and worldly concerns, we have become a people dependent on medication, meditation, sleep contraptions, and sound reducing earbuds to insulate ourselves from the escaping shards of rest and peace. Yet, trying to drown out the sounds of cacophony can lead to self-reliance. Isaiah 50:10 says, “Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon his God.” The next verse expresses this thought negatively, again reinforcing the admonition to rely on God. “Look, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourselves with sparks: Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled –This you shall have from My hand: You shall lie down in torment” (v 11).

Recently I watched a movie, The Road, based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy which won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The setting is post-apocalyptic, and the two main characters, a father and his young son, are on a journey south to escape the encroaching cold while avoiding cannibalistic remnants of society. The horrific and heartbreaking scenes are precariously balanced by the father’s assurance to his son that they are the “good guys” who are “carrying the fire.” As I heard the repeated assertion by father and son, I could not help but wonder how the heaviness of self-reliance can eclipse the only true Light of the World. When all we have left is ourselves to look to, we will (like this father and son) certainly lie down in torment. Yet, we who believe, how can we forget what Jesus Christ said? “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28).

And how does reliance on God help others? It begins with a simple supplication as in Psalm 69:16. “Hear me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good; Turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies.”  To testify that God is good and that He is merciful establishes trust that he will intervene on our behalf. Maybe nothing dramatic happens, and maybe this act of reliance will take the shape of patient waiting. There is a change, however, to the troubled mind and restful sleep comes. Sleep rejuvenates the spirit and energizes our praise to God. Regardless of how or when God answers prayer, our steadfast hope in God’s lovingkindess encourages others who also are ‘poor in spirit.’ Psalm 69:32 says, “The humble shall see this and be glad; And you who seek God, your hearts shall live.” Yet, it is not our actions that bring down the peace that passes all understanding. To believe that is to again become self-reliant. Rather, our help comes from the God who asks, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you [my italics]. The verb used implies that God is saying, “As for Me, I am unable to forget you!” (commentary; New King James Version). So let us pass on to our children and our Christian brothers and sisters the assurance that the God who never sleeps (He doesn’t need to in order to have perfect peace!) is our help in troubled times. Let us seek to lift each other up by coming together, each “…has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” Instead of teaching each other to depend on self; we must encourage one another to rely on God if we are to enjoy peace and rest in our Lord.

We thank You, Lord, for You are the Light of the World and the burning flame that we carry to others. Light the way, we ask You, Lord Jesus, and please give the weary soul rest, if even for a night.

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2 Kings 20; Isaiah 38-40; Psalm 68; 1 Corinthians 11

29The Lord gives strength to those who are tired.

He gives more power to those who are weak…

31But the people who trust the Lord will become strong again.

They will be able to rise up as an eagle in the sky.

They will run without needing rest.

They will walk without becoming tired.

Isaiah 40:29-31

I. AM. EXHAUSTED.

My roles as solo mama to three under the age of six, house cleaner for my own home (well, I’m trying) and for three others, sole breadwinner, daughter, friend, leader, studier of the Word…and on top of that never sleeping for more than 3-4 hours straight due to kids having nightmares or the insomnia brought on by thinking about my ever-growing to do list, has made me truly understand what it means to be sleep deprived.

And yet, I can’t stop. I can barely slow down; though there are days that I force myself, because I can’t afford to get benched by illness, and the cleanliness of my house suffers or we have cereal for dinner for the third night in a row. As much as I’ve pared down and said “No” to as much as possible, just the basics of life completely take it out of me…and unfortunately, there are way too many things left that if I don’t do them, they don’t get done.

I am desperate for strength and power. I am desperate to walk and run and rise up like the eagle. I am desperate to thrive and not just (barely) survive. I am desperate to live. I am desperate for God.

2Hezekiah turned toward the wall and prayed to the Lord. He said, 3“Lord, please remember that I have always obeyed you. I have given myself completely to you. I have done what you said was right.” And Hezekiah cried loudly. 2 Kings 20:2-3

Hezekiah’s situation was different; he was literally on his death bed. He was desperate. And so, he cried out to Jesus, he cried loudly, unashamed. God heard his cry, honored his faithfulness, and restored his health.

To survive this season, all seasons of my life, it is so important to call on Jesus. Every day. Every moment. It is necessary to seek His presence, His, strength, His grace, His mercy. I can’t do it on my own.

3But those who do right should be glad.

They should rejoice before God.

They should be happy and glad.

4Sing to God. Sing praises to his name.

Prepare the way for him

who rides through the desert.

His name is the Lord.

Rejoice before him. Psalm 68: 3-4

When I take the focus off myself, my struggles and difficulties, my needs, and put the focus back on God’s goodness, I am immediately refreshed. When I praise Him through song, lifting His name to the heavens, I am strengthened, because I am reminded that He never leaver nor forsakes me. When I rejoice, I am encouraged in the ways He provides for my needs in the midst of my struggles, my fatigue, my overwhelm, and He meets me where ever I am.

Yesappa, Thank You for hearing me and being bigger that my circumstances. Thank You for meeting me where I am, despite my fatigue and my overstretched to do list. Thank You for Your strength and Your rest. Thank You for healing my body, my mind, my heart when I cry out to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie

 

International Children’s Bible, Copyright © 2015 by Tommy Nelson™, a Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, 2 Kings, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Isaiah, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms

Isaiah 33-35; 1 Corinthians 6

Hope for Restoration (NLT)

35  1Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God. With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”

And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it.  It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways;     fools will never walk there. Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts. There will be no other dangers.  Only the redeemed will walk on it.

10Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem[a] singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

With all that is going on in our world today, I need verses like those in Isaiah 35. They fill me with hope to get me through the dark days.  Many of us who have heard the teachings of Jesus, wonder if we are in the last days as He described them.  Some scholars say yes because . . . and they give their reasons.  Others say no because . . . has not happened yet.  Prophesy is not easy for us to see while we are living through it.  In fact, Jesus walked along the road with two men and explained to them all the prophecy in the bible about Himself for it was missed by the scholars of that day.

I may not know the answer to whether or not we are in the final days. What I do know is that this life can be hard. A loved one dies; we lose a job we’ve had for 25 years; we are told we have a fatal illness. We grow tired and discouraged when we hear of senseless acts of violence and natural disasters killing thousands of people.  We look for signs that God has not forsaken us as the rug is pulled out from under us.  Isaiah assures me that one day the LORD will display His glory.  There will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy!  In the meantime, we need to strengthen those who have tired hands, encourage those who have weak knees, say to those with fearful hearts, “be strong and do not fear for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.  He is coming to save you”. And we need people to do the same for us!  We just have a little farther to go.  Hold on saints!  No matter what this life brings to each of us, we have the assurance that one day God will redeem it all.

“Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy.  Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.”

Heavenly Father:  We need You and we need each other to get through each day.  We are not meant to live life isolated from either!  Your Holy Spirit fills us so we can then, in turn, fill others.  Lord, we need to reach out to those who are hurting, weak, and discouraged.  Work in our hearts even today to see the needs.  Let us fill them with hope–the hope that You will give us enough strength to get through each day until we are finally with you forever.  In Jesus name, Amen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FyMECJbr40

 

 

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Isaiah 26-29; Psalm 65; I Corinthians 4

Do you have problems with trust? I often say that I trust others to do what they say they will do, only to think silently that I doubt they will adequately fulfill the promise made or complete the requested task. Just yesterday, I spoke on the phone with someone who asked if I wanted to cancel my services since I moved. This is the third time I have “cancelled” the services by phone, and I just knew there would be some extra charge. After droning on about the inefficiency of the company, my unwillingness to accept further charges, etc., the agent repeated, “Would you like to cancel the service today?” Polite but frozen calmness and the use of fragmented sentences and monotone voice relayed my irritation. Ever the diplomat, the agent cancelled the service and assured me there were no further charges on my account. This is just one example of how I step in to gain control, become overwhelmed, and realize too late that I have failed at doing what someone else was really capable and more qualified to do. This pattern of thinking and behavior has infected personal and working relationships, but mostly my relationship with God. It all boils down to trust.

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” If I am stressed, worried, or anxious, then do I really trust in God? And does my cynicism about the state of this world interfere with the belief that “With my soul I have desired You in the night; yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early; for when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9)? Do I really trust that the judgments of God will one day right the world? Also, do I trust in my abilities and knowledge to affect change in others, open those proverbial doors and set me in high places? Or do I seek the source of all good counsel? Isaiah 28:29 says, “This [wisdom] also comes from the Lord of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance.”

Psalm 65:9 reminds us that God visits the earth and waters it, and that God greatly enriches it, so that “The pastures are clothed with flocks; The valleys also are covered with grain,” (v13), yet I toy with thoughts that the good we receive in life is circumstantial and coincidental. I say that God is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance, yet do I boast about what I have received and judge others (and even myself) for what we lack?

I could go on with evidence of lacking trust…but beating me up for a lack of trust serves no other purpose than confessing my weakness. I Corinthians 4:5 says, “Therefore judge nothing before the time until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God.” Come, let us learn to hand over the need for control to the One who with absolute perfection will accomplish His will in our lives.

God, I will trust You today to teach me how to be a faithful servant in the field You have provided me to tend. Though, as the Apostle Paul said, I might have a thousand teachers, only You, Lord Jesus, are rightfully called the Wonderful Counselor. I will not judge others by my standards nor interfere when Your righteousness is being poured out. I will trust that You know my needs (and those of all Your creation), and that You will increase the fruit of our labor and drop, as from an overflowing cart, abundance. Thank You Almighty God and Lord Jesus Christ for providing me opportunities to trust You today as I dwell in Your presence.  Amen.

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Isaiah, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms